I'm Morgan, and I love to make things better than I found them.

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I'm Morgan, and I love to make things better than I found them.

Studying for the AWS Solutions Architect Exam

I took the AWS Solutions Architect – Associate exam Dec ’17 and it was much harder than I expected! I consider myself a good “test taker” for whatever that’s worth, but my usual test-taking skills didn’t really help me on the exam. I did decently well, but didn’t pass. Here are my reflections on how I’ll approach it differently next time.

A lot of people consider A Cloud Guru as the gold standard in AWS exam prep. It’s awesome but definitely gave me a false sense of security. I scored very high on all of the quizzes, but the format of the cert exam is much more difficult. Educated guesses are very difficult because most questions were “choose all that apply,” or “choose 3 out of 5 that apply” for example. AWS isn’t structured super intuitively (in my opinion), and I don’t have a foundation in infrastructure to lean on. So I couldn’t reason my way into understanding it, and I’ve found learned it best by trying things and making mistakes firsthand.

Since taking the exam, I’ve changed jobs and now work at an org that has 99% on-prem infrastructure, so AWS has been less of a priority.

If and when I dive back in, here’s what I’ll do differently with the certification exam:

  • More hands on practice. Set up a static website and a VPC. Make some mistakes (with billing alerts in place!). Go beyond “follow these steps to do this task” practice tasks in A Cloud Guru.

  • A friend who has passed several AWS exams highly recommends Javendra Patil’s advice, so I’ll check that out.

  • Take my time. Unlike other proctored exams, at the test center I went to, I could reschedule your exam date any time, so I’ll do that next time if I need more time to study.